Friday, October 09, 2015

Stuff I tell my daughters, as they prepare to vote for the first time.

(Stuff I tell myself, really -- sheesh, but the cage in this zoo is gettin' high.)

You haven't fallen that far from the tree (yet -- I try not to take any commonality for granted). Everything the current PM does rankles you pretty deeply. I get that (boy do I ever). Worse, you're living in a riding that is an absolute lock for the Conservative Party. Your vote isn't going to change that -- not in the least.

On the one hand, this is great -- you can throw your vote behind the wildest kook off the left end of the political spectrum, and never be held to account for your support. On the other hand, this sucks. It feels like your vote doesn't matter. But get into the habit of participating, and don't ever let up. It can be crazy-making, but there are a couple of things I try to keep in mind, just keep my head a bit (especially at campaign time).

The first is that disappointment just goes with the territory. It has to. If it doesn't, then you've become a dangerous person

The second is that people like us generally don't do too badly under governments like this -- governments of any stripe, really. We're white. We're straight-down-the-middle. We're also in a sub-culture that looks after its own, because it can. Our vote and political participation, such as it is, is mostly an attempt to ameliorate our moral sensibilities on this basic existential fluke.

It feels like we can and should do more -- so do, starting with the immediate neighborhood. It doesn't matter where you live, things are freaky for someone. And people are trying to attend. Look for the attenders in your neighborhood, introduce yourselves and roll up your sleeves.

People are going to tell you that this (or some other) election is the most important one in your lifetime. It felt to me like the most important election of my life was '88, when Mulroney's "Conservative" Free-Trade-Agreement with the US stood in the balance. To my eyes the last 30 years have been nothing but chickens coming home to roost.

But here's a question -- who was elected Prime Minister 100 years ago? Robert Borden, that's who -- a Conservative who put the kybosh on Reciprocity, the attempted (Liberal-drafted) FTA of his day. One hundred years ago, if you were Conservative, you were pro-tariffs, and very much agin "free trade." Plus ca change, right?

So there you go. Don't get bent out of shape about it. Learn some breathing exercises, go for long walks, pray -- do whatever helps to keep your head from spinning off. Each day brings its own challenges. Lend help, and be gracious about accepting help, wherever possible.

Also: don't dwell on worst-case scenarios.

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